Ben Bernanke and his cohort central bankers built a Brave New World (SOMA, SOMA, SOMA!) where central bank money printing would boost stock prices and the wealth created would trickle down to workers and cause a booming economy. If you doubted that, you are now seeing proof that maybe this world was a little bit of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland along with the Aldous Huxley.
Every Federal Reserve Chair since 1979 has faced a notable challenge in the first 12-20 months of their tenure – something akin to capital markets “Bullies” hazing the new kid at school. Paul Volcker had the 1979-1980 Iranian oil shock/recession, Alan Greenspan the 1987 Stock Market Crash, and Ben Bernanke the 2007 Financial Crisis. Their responses shaped market perceptions about Federal Reserve priorities and set the stage for the remainder of their tenures, from Inflation-Fighting Volcker to Save-the-World Bernanke. Now, it is Chair Yellen’s turn...
So now comes the era of gluts, shrinking profits and a drastic deflation of the giant financial bubble that the world’s central banks have so foolishly generated. And this time they will be powerless to stop the carnage. Yet the beleaguered central bankers will launch desperate verbal and market manipulation ploys to brake the current sell-off and thereby preserve the bloodied remnants of their handiwork. When in response the gamblers make their eighth run at buying a dip that is now rapidly turning into a crater, it will be an excellent time to sell anything in the casino that isn’t nailed down.
Is it any wonder that with "personal finance experts" such as these, that the personal finances of America have never been worse?
The following story is guaranteed to make you sick. Once again, we’re shown that following trillions in taxpayer funded bailouts and backstops, TBTF Wall Street banks immediately went ahead and focused all their attention obtaining loopholes in order to transfer risk and make billions upon billions of dollars in the financial matrix, as opposed to adding any benefit whatsoever to society.
Imagine that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was a corporation, with its shares owned by the nation's major pharmaceutical companies. How would you feel about the regulation of medications? Whose interests would this corporation be serving? Or suppose that major oil companies appointed a small committee to periodically announce the price of a barrel of crude in the United States. How would that impact you at the gasoline pump? Such hypotheticals would strike the majority of Americans as completely absurd, but it's exactly how our banking system operates.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record we'd like to say a bit more about economists' tendency to get their monetary history wrong; in particular, the common myths about the gold standard. If there's one monetary history topic that tends to get handled especially sloppily by monetary economists, not to mention other sorts, this is it. Sure, the gold standard was hardly perfect, and gold bugs themselves sometimes make silly claims about their favorite former monetary standard. But these things don't excuse the errors many economists commit in their eagerness to find fault with that "barbarous relic." The point, in other words, isn't to make a pitch for gold. It's to make a pitch for something - anything - that's better than our present, lousy money.
Bernanke Shills for El Militario-Industrio Complexo
In the event you were becoming concerned that the U.S. government might be backing away from its longstanding policy of endless violence, militarism and bloodshed, fear not. If we know one thing for sure, it’s that defense contractors and the military-intelligence-industrial complex must earn. And continue to earn it will.
As the U.S. economic expansion ages and clouds gather overseas, policy makers worry about recession. But, as WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath warns, their concern isn’t that a downturn is imminent but whether they will have firepower to fight back when one does arrive. "The world economy is like an ocean liner without lifeboats,” economists at HSBC Bank explained, and as looming threats are a reminder that the slow-growing global economy is just a shock away from peril, with rates already at zero, Douglas Elmendorf, the recently departed director of the CBO, warned, "policy makers are thinking about their backup, backup plans."
"Losses on car loans taken out by bad-credit borrowers are continuing to climb. What's driving the rise? Nomura has an idea."
Asset price inflation, a disease whose source always lies in monetary disorder, is not a new affliction. It was virtually inevitable that the present wild experimentation by the Federal Reserve - joined by the Bank of Japan and ECB - would produce a severe outbreak. And indications from the markets are that the disease is in a late phase, though still short of the final deadly stage characterized by pervasive falls in asset markets, sometimes financial panic, and the onset of recession.
Six years ago, hardly anybody outside financial circles had any idea what Quantitative Easing was – hell, many within financial circles had no idea what QE entailed. The success of the narrative created around QE; that it is the mythical ‘free lunch’ that we all intuitively know can’t exist but secretly hope does, has played perfectly to the public and now, having endured for two electoral cycles, the next wave of politicians also believe it will have no consequences and are actually using it when planning the message they feel will endear them to the electorate. What plays better than free money?
There are so many parallels between the current period since 2007 in the U.S. (The Great Recession), the period since 1990 in Japan (Japan’s 2+ lost decades), and the period after 1929 in the US (The Great Depression) because they are all periods of a ‘balance-sheet recession’ (or similarly, ‘secular stagnation'; that it is next to impossible to dismiss the comparison. Using this, there is an important lesson for the Fed to consider now in weighing whether to raise rates.
Simply put, Gold stymies "welfare statists," but back in 1966 no lesser credit-nation-creator than Alan Greenspan still belived in free markets and sound money. You can obstruct price discovery and you can disguise and distort the real value of things. But Mr. Market will get even someday. He always does.